Throw-Down Side: Quick and Easy Black Bean Salad

Sometimes we need a super-quick, super-easy side dish.  Here’s one you can make in 5 minutes, if you have Pico de Gallo on hand.  I make it when I’m serving a meal that already requires the brightness of fresh Pico.  The Grill-Meister says that Pico de Gallo is one of my signature dishes, and you know, I have to agree with him.  It makes this side salad.  We served it alongside our Faux-Fajitas and it rocked.

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz. can black beans; I always use Bush Brothers (they are the BEST beans); click here for info
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • Tabasco to taste (I use ten shakes)
  • 1/4 cup already-prepared Pico de Gallo (use store-bought or make your own using my recipe)
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar or jack cheese

Cooking Instructions

Drain and rinse the black beans, then put them in a bowl and add the salt, cumin and Tabasco.  Stir to mix.  Add the Pico de Gallo and stir again, then add the shredded cheese and stir a final time.

Serve as a side for grilled meats, tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, or as part of a vegetarian meal.  You can also serve it as a condiment or dip with tortilla chips.

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I always use Bush’s beans – they’re the best, and I know people who run their learning and knowledge management department – like I said, they’re the best
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Add the salt, cumin and Tabasco to the rinsed and drained beans
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Add the Pico de Gallo and stir
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Add the cheese and stir a final time
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This quick and easy salad is a great side for fajitas or tacos

Winter? What Winter? I’m Making Chili with Peppers from the January Garden

When the holidays are over, I’m ready for winter to be over.  I’m also ready for someone to volunteer to put away the Christmas decorations…

But we haven’t really had winter here at Glover Gardens this year, at least not yet.  I’m making chili today, not because it’s wintry – it’s not, it’s a lovely 65 degrees – but because last summer’s garden is still producing chile peppers.  Woohoo!  We’re a little unkempt and covered with fallen pine needles, but other than that, you’d think it was April here.

So – chili it is!  Click here for my recipe, whether you still have jalapeños coming out of your garden, or you’d like to warm up with a spicy, hearty one-dish meal.

Glover Gardens Chili is quick, easy, fresh and healthy.
Glover Gardens Chili is quick, easy, fresh and healthy.

I’d love to hear from you if you make this chili, or to see your recipe.

A Fresh Take on a Classic: Glover Gardens Chili

Glover Gardens Chili

Chili is one of those dishes that everyone loves – but everyone has their own (definite) view of what it should be like.

You can get into a half-hour heated discussion about chili variations here in Texas. Beans or no beans?  To some folks, them’s fighting’ words!

There are so many versions of chili.  Do you prefer long-simmered hunks of beef that melt in your mouth or ground beef?  Should it be a chunky, meaty concoction, or have a juicy, dark-red stew-like consistency?  Is beef even the right meat?  Some folks here make chili with venison, or add pork sausage to their beef chili.  Chili powder or your own spice mix?  Jalapeños and other chilis, or just bell pepper plus spices for the heat?  Serve it with crackers or tortillas?  Top with cheese or not?

So many variations, so little time…

Glover Gardens is still producing a variety of chilis
Glover Gardens is still producing a variety of peppers in late Fall

I grew up with my Dad’s wonderful chili – it has no beans, uses chili powder and is thickened with masa.  It’s really good and perhaps he’ll let me publish his recipe here in the blog sometime.  But as a grownup I have almost always had a garden that is over-flowing with different chili peppers just begging to be used, and have evolved my own chili recipe which puts these peppers front and center in the taste profile.  Even in late October/early November, I’m still harvesting peppers.  And I really like chili with beans.  So – it’s Glover Gardens Chili time.

This chili is simple, healthy, quick and versatile. The heat comes from fresh chiles, which, along with the cilantro added at the end of the cooking time, give it a garden-fresh taste.  And because we really like beans, Glover Gardens chili uses three different kinds:  kidney (dark red), black and pinto.  Be sure to use beans that haven’t had additional spices added so that you can control the flavor of your chili.  I like Bush’s Beans the best, and they are widely available.  Click here to view their variety beans products that don’t have added flavorings.

The leftovers (if there are any) make terrific nachos and can also be used on hot dogs, in stuffed baked potatoes or as a quesadilla filling.

Ingredients (serves 8-10)

  • 2 lbs. very lean ground beef (or 1 lb. of ground beef and 1 lb. of ground turkey)
  • 1 large red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 large bell peppers, any color, chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup assorted chiles, finely chopped (I use a mixture of serranos, jalapeños and any other chiles I have on hand – increase or decrease to reach your desired heat level)
  • 2 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped; click here for instructions, or you can substitute a can of diced green chilis if you don’t have poblanos or have time to roast them (hot or mild depending on your preference)
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 28 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes in sauce
  • 1 14 oz. can black beans, drained
  • 1 14 oz. can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 14 oz. can red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2 – 3 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • Optional: up to 1 tsp. cayenne or ground ancho chili (if the peppers don’t achieve the heat you seek)

    Since the Pico de Gallo uses many of the same ingredients, I like to get it going at the same time as the chili if I'm planning to use it as a garnish
    Since the Pico de Gallo uses many of the same ingredients, I like to get it going at the same time as the chili if I’m planning to use it as a garnish
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed cilantro, chopped (plus additional cilantro for garnish, if desired)
  • Optional garnishes: sliced avocado, sour cream, grated cheddar or jack cheese, cilantro, Pico de gallo (click for my recipe) or sliced fresh jalapeños, diced red onion

Cooking Instructions

I use a small food chopper to get the finely chopped hot peppers
I use a small food chopper to get the finely chopped hot peppers

Chop all vegetables (I chop the larger vegetables by hand for a medium/large dice, and use a mini-processor for the garlic, hot chilis and roasted poblanos to get them finely chopped). Sauté ground beef in a large pot until only slightly pink and drain. Return to the pan and add the chopped onions, peppers, chiles, poblano peppers or canned green chilis and garlic and sauté until vegetables are wilted.

Stir in both cans of tomatoes, then add the beans and stir again. Add cumin, pepper and 2 tsp. salt. Bring to a simmer at medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium low and cover and cook for a half hour or until you are ready to serve, stirring occasionally. Taste and add more salt, if necessary, along with any extra spice as indicated above to get the heat level you desire. Stir in cilantro, then serve with your choice of garnishes.


I love the process of making chili – the chopping, the smell of the fresh garden vegetables, the virtuous feeling when adding all the beans, the bright vibrant colors…it’s all good.

Add the vegetables to the ground beef in the dutch oven
Add the vegetables to the ground beef in the dutch oven – aren’t the colors appealing?
Softening the vegetables with the meat produces a wonderful smell of onions, garlic and peppers
Softening the vegetables with the meat produces a wonderful aroma of onions, garlic and peppers and gets the males at Glover Gardens into the kitchen asking “When’s dinner?”
Glover Gardens Chili is chock-full of protein and fiber and looks very appetizing with its variety of garnishes
After it all comes together, Glover Gardens Chili is chock-full of protein and fiber and looks very appetizing with its variety of garnishes

Copyright 2015, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Found Recipe: (Marvelous) Planked Salmon with (Marvelous) Spice Rub

If you’ve read my About page, you know that I really like to play with recipes. Add this, increase that, amp up the spices a bit…you know the drill.  Well, once in a while, I find a recipe that simply can’t be improved.  I try, but…the recipe is already perfect.

Cedar Planks
Click here to order the cedar planks from Amazon.

This is one of those recipes.

The Planked Salmon with Spice Rub recipe is on the back of the Fire & Flavor cedar planks label. You can find the planks at home improvement stores and grocery stores in the outdoor cooking and grilling sections, but the Fire & Flavor web site doesn’t include this recipe.

It is my civic duty to post it for you.

This recipe serves four as an appetizer course or two as a main course.

The spice rub assembles quickly and is just the right balance of sweet and spicy
The spice rub assembles quickly and is just the right balance of sweet and spicy

Rub
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp coarse salt
2 tsp ancho chilé powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper

Salmon
4 6 oz. salmon filets (skin on)
1 Fire & Flavor cedar grilling plank, soaked
honey for drizzling

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. In a small mixing bowl, combine the spice rub ingredients. Rub salmon with all of the spice rub and set aside.

I add a few sliced red onions and poblano peppers if there is room left on the cedar plank.
I add a few sliced red onions and poblano peppers if there is room left on the cedar plank.

Place soaked plank on preheated grill, close the lid, and heat for 3 minutes. Using tongs, turn the plank over and place the salmon on the heated side of the plank, skin side down. Close the lid and grill for about 12-15 minutes or until desired doneness. Remove from the grill and drizzle generously with honey. Serve immediately.

Note: don’t skimp on the honey; it’s part of the perfection of this recipe. The honey bonds with the spices on the hot salmon and almost makes a crust. It is indescribably good.  The salmon doesn’t need a sauce but we often serve my Pico de Gallo or Salsa as a condiment.  It’s also good with an avocado sauce.

This salmon pairs beautifully with grilled asparagus.
This salmon pairs beautifully with grilled asparagus and a crisp white wine like Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc.

The Grill-Meister and I absolutely love this grilled salmon and we could eat it every week.  We never have leftovers unless we double the recipe. The salmon is great the next day flaked over a simple spinach and red onion salad that has been tossed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Crab Quesadillas

OK, who doesn’t love quesadillas? They’re like a tiny, warm little sandwich your mother made for you to eat after school. Yum. Portable, finger-food, dip-able, easy to make.

Did I say yum? Did I say easy?

I’ve got a dozen quesadilla approaches, maybe more.  Today I’m sharing with you the crab version. It’s easy, classy and a great appetizer for guests.  It can also be a main course for family dinner on Sunday night, served with something clean and fresh on the side like cucumber salad. The delicate taste of the crab is beautifully balanced by the warm crunch of the tortilla and the spice of the condiments.  And for all you seafood haters, just substitute chopped or shredded chicken for the crab.

Delicate and yet spicy, these quesadillas are finger-food heaven
Delicate and yet spicy, these quesadillas are finger-food heaven; serve them with condiments for dipping.

This recipe serves four as a main course or 8-10 as an appetizer.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups cooked lump crabmeat, or two 6 oz. cans, drained
3 green onions, chopped
1 can of green chiles, hot or mild, depending on your taste
2 cups of shredded Monterrey jack cheese, divided
1/3 cup of mayonnaise (I use light mayo)
1/4 cup of cilantro, chopped
1 tsp Zippy Southwest or other southwest spice mix
2 tbsp olive oil
12 flour tortillas

Cooking Instructions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together the crabmeat, green onions, green chiles, 1 cup of the shredded jack cheese, mayonnaise, cilantro and seasoning until completely mixed.

Put olive oil in a small bowl and arrange six tortillas on one or two baking sheets.  Using a pastry brush, spread olive oil on one side of the tortillas, then turn them over and top with the crab mixture, dividing it evenly between the six tortillas. Distribute the remaining 1 cup of shredded jack cheese evenly over the crab mixture, then top with another tortilla.  Spread olive oil on the top tortillas, then put the quesadillas in the oven and set the timer for 7 minutes.  Turn over the quesadillas after 7 minutes and check after an additional 3 minutes.  The tortillas should be lightly browned.

Cut into quarters and serve hot with sides of your choice:  sour cream, Pico de Gallo, guacamole and salsa.

Assemble the filling ingredients first
Assemble the filling ingredients first
This is what it looks like after you mix it
This is what it looks like after you mix it
Spread the filling evenly on the tortillas
Spread the filling evenly on the tortillas
After you top the quesadilla with the second tortillas, spread the tops with olive oil
After you top the quesadilla with the second tortillas, spread the tops with olive oil
The finished product is a delightful and appealing finger food
The finished product is a delightful and appealing finger food

Glover Gardens Salsa

Published in 1994, this cookbook still rocks.
Published in 1994, this cookbook still rocks.  Find her recipes online.

I might be a Condiment-aholic.  I love-love-love condiments. Especially those with southwest flavors.  One of the simplest, oldest and best of the southwest condiments is salsa. I found a wonderful fresh salsa recipe years ago in a cookbook called Jane Butel’s Southwestern Kitchen, her Garden Fresh Salsa (click here).  Over the years, I added a little of this and subtracted a little of that, and pretty soon it was my own recipe.

The pepper harvest during the summer is bright and colorful and SPICY.
The pepper harvest during the summer is bright and colorful and SPICY.

I love to make it in the summer when the garden is overflowing with peppers.

Salsa goes with just about everything!

Here are some of the ways you can use this salsa, in addition to the comfort-food snack of tortilla chips and salsa:

  • As a quick sauce for a flat-iron steak
  • On grilled meats, grilled fish or grilled vegetables
  • Mixed with olive oil and Zippy Southwest (or your favorite spice mix) to make a marinade
  • Mixed with cream cheese for a quick spread
  • Poured over a goat cheese log for an easy but elegant appetizer
  • Atop poached eggs, toast and bacon for a variation of Eggs Benedict
  • As a dollop on top of hot tomato soup
  • Added to ground beef before you shape it into burgers
  • As a spread for a southwestern turkey panini or in a grilled cheese sandwich
  • And the obvious – as a required condiment for all sorts of yummy Tex-Mex or Mex-Mex dishes, like quesadillas, tacos, burritos, taquitos, etc.
This garden-fresh salsa has beautiful colors and a bold spicy taste

There’s a long list of ingredients in this recipe, but this salsa comes together quickly.

Ingredients
1 bunch of cilantro, washed, ends removed
Leaves from 4-5 sprigs of fresh oregano
Leaves from 1 bunch fresh basil (10-15 leaves)
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 whole pickled jalapenos or 2 tbsp sliced pickled jalapenos (choose your desired level of heat)
2-6 fresh chile peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
1 bell pepper, any color, roughly chopped
½ Spanish onion, roughly chopped
28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained (reserve the juice)
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp of honey
2 tsp of coarse sea salt
¼ tsp cumin
1 cup of fresh cherry or grape tomatoes, roughly chopped

Cooking Instructions
Assemble cilantro, oregano, basil, garlic and pickled jalapenos in the food processor and pulse until the mixture is finely chopped.

Add the chile peppers, bell pepper and onion and pulse 8-10 times until the additional ingredients are about a medium dice. Add drained tomatoes and pulse about 4 times.

Add lime juice, vinegar, honey, salt, cumin and ½ cup of the reserved juice from the canned tomatoes, then pulse several times. Pour into a medium bowl and then add the chopped fresh tomatoes.

Stir, taste and adjust seasonings, adding more of the reserved juice from the tomatoes if you’d like the consistency to be thinner.

Makes about 5 cups, but doesn’t last long!

Herbs, garlic and pickled jalapeños are processed first.
Herbs, garlic and pickled jalapeños are processed first.
Peppers and onions are added next.
Peppers and onions are added next.
This is how it looks after the peppers and onions are added.
This is how it looks after the peppers and onions are added.
The fresh tomatoes are added at the end.
The fresh tomatoes are added at the end.
The result is a yummy, spicy salsa that can be enjoyed right away.
The result is a yummy, spicy salsa that can be enjoyed right away.

You can play with this salsa in all kinds of ways.  Substitute cider vinegar for more of an acidic kick, or double the lime juice and leave out the vinegar altogether for a super-fresh citrus taste. Adding a chipotle pepper instead of the pickled jalapeños will give the salsa a sultry smokiness. Leave in the seeds and ribs of the peppers  if you want to increase the heat, or toss in a pinch or two of red pepper flakes at the end.  

You can serve the salsa immediately, but it’s amazing if you let it rest in the refrigerator for an hour or two and the let it come to room temperature before serving.

Copyright 2015, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Fiesta Grilled Shrimp Dip

At Glover Gardens, summer brings lots of grilled shrimp, and sometimes we have leftovers.  This creamy, spicy dip is quickly assembled and makes the most of leftover grilled shrimp – it’s the perfect appetizer for a summer barbecue.

You don’t have to wait for leftover shrimp – this dip is so good that it’s worth grilling the shrimp just to use in the recipe (minus a few for the chef’s tasting privileges).

The Grill-Meister I’m married to usually grills the shrimp at Glover Gardens, but I do the prep, and I usually just marinate it in olive oil, Zippy Southwest and maybe a little lime juice before threading it onto skewers for him. But I haven’t blogged that recipe yet, so here’s one for you if you’re in the mood to grill shrimp for this recipe.

Fiesta Grilled Shrimp Dip
Creamy, spicy Fiesta Grilled Shrimp Dip is perfect for a hot summer afternoon

Ingredients

  • 4 chile peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped (I use jalapeños and serranos)
  • 2 cups grilled shrimp (or any cooked shrimp), coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp Tabasco or other hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • Paprika or Zippy Southwest for garnish (optional)

Cooking Instructions
Mix cream cheese and sour cream until smooth; then stir in Tabasco and lime juice. Add the rest of the ingredients, taste, and season with salt. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and sprinkle with paprika, then chill for at least one hour to let the flavors “marry”.  Serve with crackers or sturdy chips.


This dip is a variation of a more savory version my Dad makes during the holidays, which uses Worcestershire for flavor and celery for crunch. The lime juice, chiles and Tabasco transform it to a summer dish that is perfect next to the pool.  It pairs beautifully with a Mexican beer or a margarita.

Copyright 2015, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Pico de Gallo Makes Super-Quick Guacamole

I recently posted my Pico de Gallo recipe and promised it can be used in many other dishes.  Here’s a super-quick one that I make all the time, usually the day after I first make the Pico (if there is any left over).

Just a few ingredients turn Pico de Gallo into a simple guacamole.
Just a few ingredients transform Pico de Gallo into a simple guacamole.
There are only a couple of steps in this recipe.
There are only a couple of steps in this recipe.

Ingredients
1/2 to 1 cup of leftover or freshly made Pico de Gallo (click here for the recipe)
Juice of 1/2 lime
I fresh avocado, chopped (click here for instructions on how to chop an avocado)
Salt to taste

Cooking Instructions

Combine all ingredients, adding more salt if necessary.  The result is a chunky, delicious condiment as shown in the photo below.


I used this recipe recently while at our cabin in the mountains of Colorado to create a quick guacamole for my pulled pork tacos.  (I’m still working on perfecting the pulled pork recipe, which is made in the crock pot and is a real time-saver.)  It was great to be able to quickly throw together the guacamole so I could have more time to savor my al fresco dinner watching the sun set over the mountains.

Quick guacamole is the perfect compliment for pulled pork tacos, and is especially tasty on a chilly spring evening in Colorado.
Quick guacamole is the perfect compliment for pulled pork tacos, and is especially tasty on a chilly spring evening in Colorado.

Copyright 2015, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Pico de Gallo: One of My Top Ten Foods

One of my top ten foods is the condiment Pico de Gallo.  I love, love, love it!

Simple, bright and fresh, Pico de Gallo brings a liveliness to any dish it accompanies.

Pico de Gallo tastes as bright and fresh as it looks.
Pico de Gallo tastes as bright and fresh as it looks.

I use Pico de Gallo in tons of ways:

  • in the traditional way, with Tex-Mex and Mexican dishes like tacos, enchiladas and tostadas
  • as a topping for soups, southwest-style stews, vegetable purees, corn pudding, my Glover Gardens chili and many other
  • as a condiment with grilled entrées such as shrimp, fish and pork
  • as an ingredient in other dishes, such as guacamole, southwest rice and scrambled eggs
  • as a topping for a quick Southwest crostini
  • and whatever else comes to mind when I have some left over…

It only takes a few minutes to throw this recipe together, and I make it almost every weekend.

Ingredients
6-8 fresh chile peppers (I use jalapeños and serranos), seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 red onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup of chopped very ripe tomato
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1/2 lime
Pinch (or more) of salt
Pinch of sugar or a few drops of honey

Cooking Instructions
Combine all ingredients, adding more salt if necessary.


The variations for Pico de Gallo are endless! I often add a little cider vinegar for more of an acidic kick, or even substitute it for the lime juice. You can make it more sophisticated by using a good-quality balsamic vinegar instead of lime juice, or more basic by leaving out the cilantro. Leave in the seeds and ribs of the peppers to increase the heat, or toss in a pinch or two of red pepper flakes.  Be sure to use the ripest tomato(es) you can find. I often use cherry or grape tomatoes because they grow so well at Glover Gardens here in Southeast Texas.

Copyright 2015, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Food Magazine Treasures: Serrano Ham and Corn Pudding

I have "food magazine sprawl" and I'm not sorry.
I have “food magazine sprawl” and I’m not sorry.

For years, food magazines have piled up on surfaces everywhere in my house, with their tempting glossy cover photos of each month’s culinary treasure.  I subscribed to Bon Appetít in my early 20s, almost before I could afford it, and felt bereft along with about a million other subscribers when Gourmet magazine shut down.  Cook’s Illustrated is another favorite, and who doesn’t love Saveur or Food & Wine?

These and other culinary magazines do so many things for cooks:  take us on virtual trips to exotic places and make the different cuisines accessible, expand our ideas about what’s good, teach us new tricks and expose use to new kitchen gadgets, and inspire us to elevate our cooking game.  They also connect us with recipes that become staples in our kitchen, like this 2005 recipe for Serrano Ham and Corn Pudding that can now be found in Epicurious.

Serrano Ham and Corn Pudding photo from Epicurious.

This is truly a fantastic recipe.

I encourage you to try it.  Made as written, the dish is spicy comfort food that serves as a terrific side dish. I have served it at Thanksgiving instead of the traditional creamed corn, as a side for barbecue instead of the predictable potato salad or corn, or even as a main dish for a weeknight dinner with a simple salad to complement it.  Yum.

You can really kick this recipe around and it still performs for you.  Try substituting a different meat (chopped ham, smoked turkey, andouille sausage) or leaving out the meat altogether.  You can use a different cheese, such as cheddar or Monterrey jack, substitute cream for the sour cream, corn meal instead of masa, vary the kinds of peppers – everything I’ve tried out of creativity or convenience has worked. I LOVE THIS RECIPE.  If I can settle on a single favorite variation that’s different enough, I’ll add it to the Glover Gardens Cookbook.

Leave me a comment if you intend to try your hand at the Serrano Ham and Corn Pudding.  I’d love to hear what you think of it.